Public health warning issued after traveller returns to Sydney with measles

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An urgent warning has been issued following a confirmed case of measles on an international flight. The infected passenger arrived in Sydney at 7 am on Monday, October 2, and it’s believed they contracted the infection while traveling in Africa.

People who were on flight QF128 from Hong Kong to Sydney or were present in the Terminal 1 International Arrivals area on Monday morning should be vigilant for symptoms, according to NSW Health.

Measles symptoms include fever, sore eyes, a cough, and a red blotchy rash that starts on the head and neck and spreads to the rest of the body. Young children and infants may also experience diarrhea.

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Although measles is rare in Australia due to high vaccination rates, it can still cause serious illness, with up to one in three infected individuals ending up in the hospital.

The aircraft and terminal are not considered an ongoing risk, but individuals who may be susceptible to measles, including unvaccinated infants and those with weakened immune systems, should monitor for symptoms until Wednesday, October 20.

Dr. Sean Tobin, Associate Director of the Northern Sydney Public Health Unit, emphasized the importance of vigilance, especially among those who may be susceptible to measles. Anyone uncertain about their vaccination status is advised to consult their GP and receive an extra dose, as additional vaccinations are safe.

Measles symptoms typically appear about 10 days after exposure but can take up to 18 days to manifest. Dr. Tobin urged anyone with symptoms to contact their GP or an emergency department in advance to prevent potential exposure to others.

With increased international travel during school holidays, the number of measles cases in the country is expected to rise.

In August, a travel alert was issued after a tourist brought the infection from Bali, and South Australia recorded its first case since 2019 in March when a three-year-old child contracted the infection overseas.

Anyone experiencing measles symptoms or seeking information about measles is encouraged to contact their GP or Healthdirect at 1800 022 222.

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